The Lucknow Pact, 1916


  • In the early twentieth century the  nationalism was gaining fervour  so Curzon  decided to divide Bengal, to break the unity of Indians and to check the growth of nationalism. This goal started showing fruits with with Surat split.
  • Difference between moderates and extremists further widened with moderates opposing the resolutions on Swaraj, Swadeshi, Boycott of foreign goods and National Education and also there as issue with the leadership of congress sessions as well that ultimately led to Surat split

Why was it the death of Congress in Surat 

  • The British policy, known as the policy of the carrot and the stick, was to be a three pronged one. It may be described as a policy of repression-conciliation-suppression. This approach was successful as after the split the British Government immediately launched a massive attack on the extremists and Extremist newspaper were suppressed.
  • Lokmanya Tilak, their main leader, was sent to Mandalay jail for six years.
  • Divide and rule:-
    • The Moderates did not see that the colonial state was negotiating with them not because of their inherent political strength but because of the fear of the Extremists. The Extremists did not see that the Moderates were their natural outer defence line (in terms of civil liberties and so on) and that they did not possess the required strength to face the colonial state’s juggernaut.
  • The split did not prove useful to either party
    • The moderates lost touch with the younger generation of nationalists.
    • The British played the game of divide and rule. While suppressing the extremists, Britishers tried to win over moderate national opinion so that former could be isolated and suppressed.
  • In 1909: Separate electorates were granted to the Muslims during a time when the Congress was at its lowest ebb. The most critical and vocal elements were not a part of the INC. Thus the British had taken absolute advantage over the INC.

How congress underwent rebirth in Lucknow?

  • The Lucknow Session 1916 was special in many respects.
  • This session brought the moderates and extremists in Congress on common platform again after nearly a decade.
  • Congress and All India Muslim League signed the historic Lucknow Pact.
  • Muslim League sought for a sort of joint platformwith the congress to put constitutional pressure on the British Government towards making reforms. The idea was that such joint demand would give an impression of Hindu-Muslim unity. Towards this, Congress and Muslim League negotiated an agreement in Lucknow pact  whose main clauses are as follows:
    • There shall be self-government in India.
    • Muslims should be given one-third representation in the central government.etc

Issues remained 

  • Lucknow Session appeared to have given a perception of Hindu-Muslim unity; but it was signed without regard for its consequences.
  • A blunder was committed by approving one third representations of the Muslims on the basis of their being a minority was biggest blunder because it sowed the seeds of communal politics. 
  • This pact made it open and clear that India has different communities and each one of them has its own interests.

Congress unity remained till independence 

  • The clear difference between moderates and extremists slowly faded away with the entry of Gandhi as congress supported it.

Even later British applied this policy for dividing congress but congress realised the consequences of split and stayed together for instance despite ideological differences between swarajists and non swarajists separate party was not formed .Even socialist party which was formed in 1930’s also worked within the aegis of Congress.